An antiretroviral drug, formerly known as azidothymidine or AZT, that is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to slow the progression of AIDS. The principal aim of antiretrovirals is to keep viral replication to as low a level as possible for as long as possible; they do not constitute a cure. Zidovudine was the first drug to be introduced to combat HIV infection. Possible side effects of zidovudine include anaemia, which may be severe enough to require a blood transfusion, nausea, loss of appetite, and headache. Zidovudine also impairs the absorption of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, the antibiotic drugs used to treat pneumonia in people who have AIDS, thus reducing the effectiveness of these drugs.


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